The Liverpool Whole School Approach (WSA)
The Liverpool WSA is a citywide approach that aims to make mental health everyone’s business in Liverpool schools and other education establishments.
Working with a range of partners, the WSA supports education providers to develop their own internal whole school/system approach to ensure that the mental health needs of children/young people, their families and school staff are met.
Based on the public health eight principles model, the Liverpool WSA model encourages schools to develop in the following areas…
Leadership & management
- Leadership and management that supports and champions efforts to promote emotional health and wellbeing in staff, pupils and families.
- An effective Whole School Approach (WSA) to mental health and wellbeing begins with a leadership team that make mental health a key priority in their school.
- This can include:
- having a dedicated senior leader driving the WSA;
- developing and embedding a WSA policy; and
- ensuring that pupils and families’ wellbeing is an integral part of their school.
“Leaders in our school promote mental health and wellbeing.”
- Senior staff from the WSA partnership regularly sit on the headteacher associations and other educational boards.
- Termly network meetings are held for strategic WSA leads in schools for updates/communication, co-production and training.
- Education representatives attend the WSA partnership board and the CAMHS partnership board meetings.
- Resources and training are available to support school leaders to develop their WSA effectively.
- There is also work being done to support senior leaders in school around their emotional health and wellbeing.
Curriculum teaching and learning
- Curriculum, teaching and learning to promote resilience and support social and emotional learning and mental health.
- Schools can maximise opportunities within their curriculum, teaching and learning, to promote positive mental health and wellbeing to pupils.
- This could be through both PHSE and considering mental health and wellbeing across the general curriculum, teaching about building resilience in pupils and staff.
“I learn about building resilience and looking after my mental health in my school.”
- Enabling student voices to influence decisions around the WSA to mental health and emotional wellbeing.
- Schools need to allow their pupils to shape their WSA.
- A variety of participation methods can be applied to allow pupils to have their voices heard.
- Schools should consider whether their WSA is culturally sensitive, age-appropriate and accessible to all pupils.
“Staff in our schools listen to our views on mental health.”
- Staff development to support their wellbeing and that of their pupils.
- School staff need to be trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental distress and have basic training to support their pupils.
- They also need appropriate training and support structures to support their emotional health and well-being.
“We have processes and policies in place to support our own wellbeing as well as the pupils.”
Parents & carers
- Working with parents/carers to support their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
- Schools have a role to play with parents and carers to support their emotional wellbeing.
- They also need to recognise the role parents and carers have in supporting their own child’s mental health.
- Schools should consider how their engagement with parents supports those experiencing mental health difficulties.
“My parents get lots of support from my school relating to my mental health and wellbeing.”
Recognising mental health need
- Identifying mental health needs and monitoring the impact of interventions given.
- Key staff in school need to be trained to spot the signs and symptoms of a child or young person in mental distress.
- Schools can develop their own internal graduated approach to help staff to do this. Mental health leads in schools to be aware of services that can offer pupils and their families support.
“Staff in my school know how to spot early signs of mental distress in pupils, and support them.”
- Targeted support for mental health and making appropriate referrals.
- Schools need to be aware of the internal and external support and services available to them to support their pupils’ mental health.
- Liverpool’s WSA graduated approach shows the range of support available as part of the CAMHS offer to all schools.
- It is helpful for schools to develop their graduated approach to include any internal support offered and the points at which it would be appropriate to engage with each level of support.
“If we need support for our mental health, there is a clear pathway for us to follow.”
Ethos and environment
- An ethos and environment that promotes respect, values diversity, and makes mental health everyone’s business.
- Good mental health is at the heart of learning and child development. Pupils need to feel a sense of safety and belonging in school if they are to thrive in their education.
- Developing a school environment where it is okay to talk about mental health, feelings and experience both success and failure is key to staff and pupils.
“Mental health is everyone’s business in my school.”
- Being resilient is having the ability to bounce back from adversity. It is a necessary skill for coping with life’s inevitable obstacles and one of the key ingredients to success.
- Although resilience can often be innate, pupils can develop these essential skills through their experiences and the support given.
- The WSA partners provide training around the key elements of resilience and guidance on how to embed these effectively into all aspects of the curriculum, teaching and learning.
Participation & Co-production
- Participation and co-production are at the heart of the WSA partnership.
- There are several participation groups across the city to capture the voice and steer of children, young people, professionals and carers.
- Schools can also utilise peer-to-peer support programs such as TOTEM (secondary schools) and ROCKET (primary schools) to ensure that pupils have an opportunity to steer and shape mental health support in their school.
- A range of training opportunities is available free of charge to schools. One of these is the ROAR training programme, offering a WSA to mental health in primary, secondary, early years, and special schools.
- Courses are advertised on the Liverpool CAMHS website: www.liverpoolcamhs.com/professionals/training/
Development of MHLs
- As part of the Liverpool WSA, each school is encouraged to develop mental health lead roles within their staff team.
- The WSA strategic lead should be a member of SLT and will work with staff to develop mental health support across the school.
- The operational designated mental health lead will act as the main contact with Education Mental Health Teams whilst also delivering support directly to pupils.
- The Liverpool WSA CAMHS pathway is delivered by a range of services working in partnership to support children, young people, families and staff in education.
- To facilitate a coordinated approach, service teams work in three Education Mental Health Teams (EMHTs) across the city. All schools/education establishments are being aligned to one of these three EMHTs: North, Central and South.
- EMHTs consist of a range of providers/services that deliver across the pathway, some working within targeted levels and others across levels of need.
Mental Health Promotion
- In schools, mental health promotion is supported by the Liverpool CAMHS vision to ‘make mental health everyone’s business’ across the city.
- Schools can benefit from a range of training, activities, assemblies, resources and city-wide/national campaigns to develop awareness around mental health in schools.
- Implementation of the ROAR programme, thrive, and other WSA initiatives can help establish a wellbeing culture within schools.
- The WSA partnership uses key awareness days and events throughout the school year to develop this in schools.
- Internal WSA
- City-wide WSA support
You can read the 2020 citywide approach report here
Members of the Liverpool CAMHS partnership deliver an ongoing comprehensive training programme for professionals working with children and young people.
Visit the training calendar here.
The Roar Response Programme
Childhood should be a carefree, fun time, but sometimes children and young people face emotional and even traumatic experiences that may be related to school and educational situations.
Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing in Education Self-Assessment Tool
Developed by The Liverpool Learning Partnership and Merseyside Youth Association, this self-assessment toolkit is designed to enable staff in education settings to recognise and reflect on areas in which they are adopting a Whole School Approach to student, family and staff emotional wellbeing, whilst identifying areas for improvement.